Senate bill aims to avert shutdown, lacks key budget powers

WASHINGTON - US Senate Democrats on Monday unveiled legislation to prevent a government shutdown this month, but the measure stops short of giving agencies broad new powers to rearrange their budgets to limit pain from automatic spending cuts.
But the bill from Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Mikulski of Maryland contains dozens of targeted spending adjustments for areas such as transportation, health and national parks that could provide some limited relief from the $85 billion in automatic cuts triggered on March 1.
The measure builds on a similar bill passed last week by the House of Representatives by including updated spending plans for scientific activities such as NASA as well as the Commerce, Justice, Agriculture and Homeland Security departments.
Like the House measure, the Senate bill also includes similar spending updates for the Defense Department and Veterans Administration, according to a summary released by Mikulski's staff. The updates allow agencies to shift money from outdated, unwanted projects to higher priority activities.
The Senate bill would keep government agencies funded for the remainder of the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, but makes no effort to replace $85 billion in automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.